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Am J Vet Res. 1997 Nov;58(11):1274-9.

Effect of alfentanil on the minimum alveolar concentration of isoflurane in cats.

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Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis 95616, USA.



To evaluate effect of incremental doses of alfentanil on isoflurane minimum alveolar concentration (MAC) in cats to determine whether alfentanil reduces isoflurane MAC and, if so, maximal isoflurane MAC reduction.


6 healthy spayed female cats.


Cats were anesthetized with isoflurane and instrumented to allow collection of arterial blood for measurement of gas tensions, pH, and plasma alfentanil concentration and to measure arterial blood pressure. Isoflurane MAC was determined in triplicate, and alfentanil was administered i.v., using a computer-driven syringe pump to achieve estimated plasma alfentanil concentrations of 50, 100, 250, 500, 750, and 1,000 ng/ml; isoflurane MAC was determined at each alfentanil concentration. Cats were allowed to recover, and the process was graded as poor, good, or excellent.


Alfentanil had a significant dose effect on isoflurane MAC reduction. Significant regression was found for normalized isoflurane MAC versus estimated plasma alfentanil concentration. A quadratic term was necessary to fit the model and, using this curve, MAC reduction (35.0 +/- 6.6%) was estimated to be maximal at a plasma alfentanil concentration of 500 ng/ml. Significant differences were evident in rectal temperature, bicarbonate concentration, base deficit, arterial carbon dioxide and oxygen tensions, and arterial pH between isoflurane alone and some plasma alfentanil concentration and the corresponding reduction in isoflurane concentration.


Infusion of alfentanil resulted in maximal MAC reduction midway between that reported for horses and dogs. At such plasma alfentanil concentration, adverse effects were minimal, but included increase in rectal temperature, metabolic acidosis, and decrease in PaO2. Provided cats were not handled during the recovery period, recovery was smooth and quiet.


Infusion of alfentanil decreases the need for potent inhalant anesthetics in cats and could potentially be a clinically useful anesthetic regimen in sick cats.

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